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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

FIRST HALF OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

concourse of interests, in the faith that the mind would one day ^
attain maturity and so become truly moral. " Do you believe,"
he asks in The Msthetic Presentation of the World, " that by moral
ideas alone you can teach how to act ? Man stands in the midst
of nature, himself a part of it, her power streaming through his
inmost soul... He must know himself and his powers, and the
forces around him which can help him/'* With the historical
and the scientific studies go the practical activities relating to them.
The course he recommends, for example, includes manual
training, which he insists must not be regarded as a mere prepara-
tion for a trade, but as having an intimate connection with science
as furnishing a link between the apprehension of the facts of nature
and human purposes. v

A curriculum like this guarantees many-sided interest. But
more is required. Scattering of interests forms an antithesis to
many-sidedness just as much as one-sidedness. Many-sidedness
is to be the foundation of virtue, but since the latter is an attribute
of personality the unity of self-consciousness must not be impaired*
" The many sides," he declares, " should represent sides of the
same person, like different surfaces of one body." One way of
effecting this unification of interests is through a properly arranged
method of instruction. The demand for unity in the intellectual
sphere implies, according to Herbart, a twofold mental process.
On the one hand, there must be a gradual acquisition of single
ideas by successive efforts; and on the other hand, alternating
with it, a gradual gathering or assimilation of these separate ideas
into the unity of a group. The first he calls absorption, " getting
deep into a thing." For the time being the whole mind is con-
centrated on the one object: all other objects which might
distract attention are excluded. The second is reflection, the
process of comparison and co-ordination by which the object which
has been apprehended in the act of absorption is brought into
relation with the other contents of the mind. "Absorption and re-
flection, as forming the act of mental respiration, should always
alternate with one another." Expanding this idea, Herbart marks
out four successive stages in the course of instruction which, he
says, "are universal and must be followed in all instruction
without exception." In the first, the aim is Clearness. The
objects tp be studied have to be broken up Into their dements so
* Eckofi, p. 114.